external image clip_image003.pngVideoconferencing Continuum
Proprietary Desktop VC: Skype, iChat, etc.
  • Free
  • Proprietary (i.e. Skype only connects to Skype, iChat only connects to iChat, etc).
  • May have poor echo-cancellation.
  • No (or limited) multipoint capabilities.
  • Inability to use peripherals for additional visuals.
  • Great for international collaborations

Desktop VC: Open Source H.323 (Standards-based)
H323 is the standard for what is also referred to as IP based videoconferencing. With H323 you can connect to any other H323 device.
  • Free
  • Ekiga and XMeeting
  • Connects to most H323 standard videoconferencing units
  • No echo-cancellation can make it difficult to use with a classroom of students
  • May be challenging to make it work on the network

Desktop VC: H.323 (Standards-based)
  • Polycom PVX software: $120 ish plus webcam
  • Polycom CMA Desktop: Client – server solution
  • Tandberg Movi: Client – server solution
  • Vidyo: uses a new SVC (scalable videoconferencing) algorithm to adjust for different network speeds; with the installation of a H323 gateway, will connect to H323 sites (without the H323 gateway, Vidyo fits in the Proprietary Desktop VC category above)
  • LifeSize Desktop (stand alone this is SIP only and doesn’t connect to H.323; but with a server or bridge, it can connect to H.323)
  • Echo-cancellation may be a problem
  • Rigging audio and video from a desktop system to work in a classroom can be challenging
  • Can use an interactive whiteboard or display system to involve the whole class
  • More challenging for presenting or sending visually rich content; but works great for receiving and short collaborations

Small Room Systems: Fixed Camera H.323 (Standards-based)
  • Under $5000
  • LifeSize Express w/Focus camera
  • Cameras have limited or no movement
  • Designed for small conference rooms, 3-7 people
  • Easy to receive content from content providers etc., but difficult to use to have students present for events like Read Around the Planet and other collaborative projects

Classroom Systems: H.323 SD (standard definition) (Standards-based)
  • Most of the vendors are not selling these anymore. You can get used standard definition units from places like The Videoconference Store.
  • Range from $3000-$9000 (ask your vendor/reseller for an “entry level” unit)
  • The older units are “set top” units that were designed to sit on a TV; newer units separate camera & codec to accommodate flat screen monitors
  • Ability to connect a computer and document camera for presenting
  • Great camera movement, ideal for classrooms
  • Polycom VSX 7000 and 8000 series (older)
  • Polycom QDX (newer, faster, better, cheaper)
  • Tandberg 770, 880, 990 MXPs (older)

Classroom Systems: High Definition - Telepresence (Standards-based)
  • To take full advantage of HD, calls need to be at 1-4 M. Most schools don’t have that bandwidth available; most content providers still make calls at 384K. Still, these systems have better cameras.
  • It’s an investment in the future of the technology.
  • Lifesize Express, Express 200, Team MP, Team 200, Room, and Room 200
  • Polycom HDX 7000, 8000, 9000 series
  • Tandberg QuickSet C20 (newer, entry level HD unit)

For more information on carts vs. rooms and videoconferencing network infrastructure, read the full article this text was extracted from: http://vcoutonalim.org/2009/08/04/continuum-of-videoconferencing/

See also Skype vs. Standards-based VC: The Showdown

Credit:
Content from Videoconferencing Out on a Lim at http://vcoutonalim.org. Used by permission.